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Headword: *koppati/as
Adler number: kappa,2055
Translated headword: koppa-branded
Vetting Status: high
They used to call [koppatias, "koppa-branded"] horses, on which the letter k was branded,[1] just like they used to call "san-bearing" those branded with "san", a sigma and a nu.[2] Those brandings are still used on horses. For the shape of the number 90 (ϟ), formed by joining kappa and sigma, should be understood here; koppa precedes it.[3] For that is how the grammarians teach us, and ϟ is called koppa.[4] Some explained koppatias as cutting (ko/ptw) the ground with their hoofs; but they do not speculate rightly.[5] After all, we do not call [horses] ox-heads [Boukephalos] because that is their shape, but because that is how they are branded.[6] That is what I think Alexander's horse [Boukephalos] was like.[7] And when Boukephalos died, Alexander built [the city of] Boukephalos Alexandria,[8] dedicating the city as a memorial to [the horse's] virtue.
Greek Original:
*koppati/as i(/ppous e)ka/loun, oi(=s e)gkexa/raktai to\ k stoixei=on, w(s samfo/ras tou\s e)gkexaragme/nous to\ s1 kai\ to\ n xarasso/menon sa\n e)/legon: ai( de\ xara/ceis au(=tai e)/ti kai\ nu=n sw/|zontai e)pi\ toi=s i(/ppois: suzeugnume/nou ga\r tou= k kai\ tou= s1 to\ sxh=ma tou= #4# a)riqmou= katanoei=sqai, ou(= prohgei=tai to\ ko/ppa: para\ ga\r toi=s grammatistai=s ou(/tw dida/sketai, kai\ kalei=tai ko/ppa to\ #4#. tine\s de\ koppati/an e)chgh/santo to\n ko/ptonta tai=s o(plai=s to\ e)/dafos, ou) deo/ntws u(potiqe/menoi: ou)de\ ga\r boukefa/las kalou=men dia\ to\ morfh\n toiau/thn e)/xein, a)lla\ dia\ to\ ou(/tw kexara/xqai: oi(=os oi)=mai kai\ o( tou= *)aleca/ndrou tou= *makedo/nos i(/ppos h)=n, w(=| teleuth/santi th\n *bouke/falon *)aleca/ndreian e)/ktisen, e)nta/fion au)tw=| th=s a)reth=s xarizo/menos po/lin.
From the scholia to Aristophanes, Clouds 23, where the headword occurs in the accusative singular. (Accusative plural in line 438, on which see n. 5 below; and for fr. 42 see n. 6 below.) See also Hesychius kappa3561.
[1] In fact (as the headword itself induicates) koppa rather than kappa; see n. 4 below.
[2] cf. sigma 85. San (ϻ) was a distinct letter, used instead of sigma in several regions until the C5 BCE (web address 1). San was barely known about by Byzantine times, so the lexicographer speculates it was a ligature of "s" and "n". The entire sentence is taken from the scholia vetera on Aristophanes (see above, which read "sigma written as ϻ": kata\ to\ ϻ could easily be misconstrued as kai\ to\ n. Other commentators are better informed, e.g. Eustathius, Commentary on the Iliad vol. 3 p. 1, calls san a Doric sigma.
[3] The Suda mangles the scholia vetera: "the form of the number 900 can be understood as joining kappa and sigma; koppa precedes it". A ligature of kappa and (uncial) sigma is a reasonable description of sampi (ϡ) (web address 2); koppa precedes it not numerically, but in the numerically-ordered listing of number characters outside the conventional Greek alphabet: stigma, koppa, sampi.
[4] Koppa (ϙ) was a distinct letter, used instead of kappa before back vowels until the C5 BCE (web address 3). Corinth was spelled with a koppa (Ϙo/rinqos), and koppa was used to mark horses as being from Corinth. By Byzantine times, koppa in its numeric use, meaning 90, had evolved to a quite different shape (ϟ) (web address 4). The Suda first conflates koppa and kappa, then speculates that koppa was a ligature of kappa and sigma.
[5] The pun is made in Aristophanes, Clouds 438: "for these horses with koppas ["that cut"] and this marriage that has crushed me."
[6] (Web address 5.) A fragment of Aristophanes' lost play Anagyrus links to\n bouke/falon and to\n koppati/an.
[7] Web address 6.
[8] Boukephala, identified with present-day Jhelum (web address 7); Arrian, Anabasis 5.19.4.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5,
Web address 6,
Web address 7
Keywords: biography; comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; geography; history; zoology
Translated by: Nick Nicholas on 7 October 2008@08:04:25.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics, keywords, status) on 9 October 2008@00:42:54.
David Whitehead (x-ref; more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 9 October 2008@03:21:26.
Catharine Roth (typo noted by the translator) on 1 November 2008@22:08:04.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 11 March 2013@08:46:14.
David Whitehead (adjusted a note) on 2 May 2016@05:06:58.


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